Sex drive? Wait – what? Sex? What’s that?? You know – something you used to do in your other life before your bundle of joy or multiple bundles of joy arrived. For some – or many – of you, it may have been a while since you were in the mood for sex since childbirth. It may have been so long that slipping between the sheets to get intimate with your partner is a distant memory of days past – and the last thing on your mind or body right now.
How Long After Giving Birth Can You Have Sex?
Let’s face it, you have likely hardly slept since the birth of your baby, and your baby is asking to eat all.. time. Loss of libido, or sluggish libido, is extremely common postpartum, even if you may have heard otherwise from friends and relatives.
When Is It Safe To Have Sex After Birth
It’s very likely that if you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery or a cesarean section, your doctor or midwife will have told you that you’re “good to go” by around 6 weeks postpartum. However, it’s also possible that you are waaaaay past that now – and you still may not feel the fire of sexual desire, definitely not the way you did before your baby arrived. So while “technically’ it’s usually around 6 weeks postpartum, most of us know that that’s not really when we’re feeling up for it.
Low Libido After Birth
So, what can you do about your nonexistent or sluggish sex drive?
First, putting things in perspective, let’s look at some common causes of postpartum loss of libido – such as lack of sleep, stress, and just feeling different in your body after your baby is born.
Stress impacts your overall well-being and is one of the most frequent reasons you might be experiencing low sex drive postpartum. Whether you’re a first-time mom or have multiple children, you’re likely adjusting to the responsibilities of parenthood, which can at times feel like a daunting task and emotionally and physically overwhelming. Finding time for yourself – let alone your relationship – is often pretty low on the list of priorities. Even for those of you who have support and help at home, it may still not be quite enough to help you feel less of the weight of responsibility of care for the baby and/or children.
Fatigue is another very common cause of loss of libido. Because newborns and infants don’t sleep for long stretches, you are likely catching cat naps and hardly sleeping. Your bed becomes solely the place to catch some sleep, and no longer the retreat to intimacy with your partner that it once was.
Hormonal changes, whether nursing a baby or bottle feeding, may cause vaginal dryness, and these changes can also decrease sexual desire.
Your relationship with your body may have changed quite dramatically since having a baby – this is normal, and expected. Your body will look and feel different, it also may no longer feel like it’s yours and many describe feeling ‘touched out’ with a baby needing you close for feeding, snuggles, and more.
You may decide to reach out to a health care provider such as a doctor, pelvic floor physiotherapist, chiropractor, sex therapist or psychotherapist who can help explore causes of pelvic pain or low sex drive with you. There are also some things you can try to address stress, fatigue and insecurities about your body changes.
Postpartum Libido And How To Restart Your Intimate Life – Rekindling the fire!
Firstly, being intimate as a couple doesn’t mean you have to have sex.
Focusing on intimacy even if you are tired and not in the mood for sex, can rekindle the fire in your emotional and physical bond, and is a good place to start. Touching each other does not have to be sexual for physical intimacy. The gentle back and shoulder rubs, holding hands, looking in each other’s eyes, snuggling and kissing, are all ways to rekindle the fire and bond with your partner.
Connecting in this way, and doing whatever feels right with touch with an intention of intimacy removes the pressure to perform and is an entry point to restoring intimacy. Expressions of affection can lead to arousal and also a deeper understanding of barriers to intimacy you may be experiencing.
Your Sex Life After Giving Birth
Occupying and re-occupying your body, especially your pelvis, may take some time and practice mindful presence post-baby. Be patient with yourself and your partner. It may take a year or longer but you will very likely find sex pleasurable again. You may find that practicing mindfulness, such as focusing on your breath while engaging your senses and the whole physical and subtle body, can cultivate an acceptance of the new you and embrace of relaxed awareness of sensations, helping you access sexual or intimate pleasure while being more in touch with yourself and your partner.
Letting anxious thoughts come and go rather than following them down rabbit holes, cultivates being fully present and at the moment, moment by moment, even if you’re chiselling out five minutes with your partner before sleep – that’s okay. Anxious thoughts connected to self-confidence, fears and other distractions can fill your mind and take you away from being in the moment with yourself and your partner. It may take some practice, but mindfulness can help you reconnect to your body and your partner.
Getting Help with Postpartum Sex Drive
If you are experiencing physical pain in the pelvic area which is hindering your ability to relax into your body and sexual activity, do consider seeking professional advice and treatment. We recommend booking an appointment for Postpartum Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy with one of our experienced team members.
In addition, speaking with a psychotherapist can provide a multi-dimensional approach that supports you in processing emotional and psychological responses to your sexuality and exploring this journey of reopening your sexuality towards a blossoming transformation of the mind-body connection.